Full disclosure, I love the Texas Chainsaw franchise. Yes, even the bad ones. I fell in love with the original at a young age. Around that same time, Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Next Generation was finally coming out. So there was this movie that I loved and it had a sequel coming out that featured a couple of Hollywood’s biggest stars at the time. I couldn’t wait. I rented Next Generation from the Blockbuster as soon as I could. It was weird, super weird, but I liked it. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I read in Fangoria about the problems there was releasing Next Generation. Plus, I heard all about the backlash and hate towards the movie. Whatever. I was also hearing at the time how bad 2 and 3 were in the series, and 2 has gone on to become a cult classic.
I eventually filled in the gap prior to the remake coming out. I was shocked by how weird part 2 was as well. Were they all going to be this weird? Well, 3 was just grimy and mean, but I liked that one too. By now you can spot the pattern. I liked the remake and liked its prequel even more. I even liked the soft reboot of Texas Chainsaw 3D even though it hardcore shat on the timeline of the other movies. I think the Texas Chainsaw movies are enjoyable, even in their filth. Perhaps they just remind me of the days of seeing something I wasn’t supposed to and enjoying it.
So, where does the much delayed and anticipated (how does this keep happening to these movies?) 8th film in the franchise, Leatherface stand? Among the best in the whole series, that’s where.
To go too much into the plot would be going into spoilery territory so I’m going to try to avoid that. Basically this is an all new prequel disregarding the remake and its prequel, The Beginning from the makers of Texas Chainsaw 3D which was a direct sequel to the original which disregarded its other sequels. Still with me? Cool. Basically, this happens before the original and that’s all you need to know.
The film begins with a young Jed Sawyer (the boy who would be Leatherface) being encouraged by his family to make his first kill. He’s reluctant, but things get messy. His mother in the film, and the one egging him on the most, is played by Lili Taylor, who is amazing in this film. She appears to be the leader of the family as we meet a young Cook and Hitchhiker from the original. Those two boys get into trouble when they brutally murder the sheriff’s daughter and pass it off as an accident.
Here, the sheriff is played by Stephen Dorff, who is a force to be reckoned with in this film. This sets into motion a years-long, Devil’s Rejects-like, revenge trip where you don’t know who’s worse, the sheriff or the Sawyer family. We then catch up to Jed Sawyer in his teenage years. Now, here is where I don’t want to divulge anymore info on the plot because the filmmakers cleverly set up a “hidden Leatherface” in the film which really pays off nicely.
So, probably most important for this movie, is that the gore scenes are top notch. This movie is absolutely brutal! Coming from the filmmakers behind the French extremist classic Inside, I hoped for nothing less, and they deliver. Two standouts in the film are a gnarly, non lethal, bullet to the face and a chainsaw to the chest that spews blood everywhere. Even though the original isn’t gory at all, fans come to expect a certain level of nastiness when watching a Texas Chainsaw movie because the rest of the series delivered so well.
Comparatively, I would liken this film to the punishingly brutal Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Beginning. Yes, so both are prequels, but take that component out of it, these are some of the most hopeless and gross movies in the series. They’re the kind of gross rooted in the reality, not the kind of KNB show-off-y-ness of Part 3. If you liked that film, you’ll love this one.
The only thing that didn’t work for me was the final twist reveal happened kind of predictably. I figured out what the movie wanted us to solve early on so the build up to the reveal was kind of, “yeah, duh”. However, everything else on display here is terrifically effective.
Leatherface should be put at the top of your Halloween watch lists for the year. It’s shot well, gory as hell, and features several great performances. This is the movie Texas Chainsaw fans have been waiting for. It’s the real deal. I would wager to bet that this might be one of the best horror prequels ever after probably Puppet Master 3. By adding a mystery element, the filmmakers keep the story fresh and intriguing. This is one massacre worth traveling down to Texas for one more time.
Leatherface is In Theaters And On Demand tomorrow. Don’t miss it!